EXCLUSIVE: Students walk out of Mike Pence speech
Dozens of students walked out of Mike Pence’s speech at Georgetown University on Wednesday night.
One student told Campus Reform he could not attend the event because the room hit capacity.
Dozens of Georgetown University (GU) students walked out of Gaston Hall during Vice President Mike Pence’s speech Wednesday night.
The protesters stood up minutes after Pence took the stage and left the room, while others unveiled a large banner reading “LGBTQ+, Reproductive Rights Are Human Rights,” video obtained by Campus Reform shows.
The disruption frustrated students who planned to attend the speech, GU student Vir Vaidhyanathan told Campus Reform.
“I didn’t get a seat inside because the line was so big,” he said. “I think it was disrespectful [of] the protesters to leave in the middle [of the speech] when people like us didn’t get a chance to sit inside and watch him.”
Vaidhyanathan said that while he does not agree with Pence’s policies, “just hearing about him was very interesting.”
The students piled on the steps outside the building and held pre-made signs and pride flags. Protesters were invited to share testimonies about why they decided to walk out of the event in between a variety of chants including “hate has no home here,” “whose campus? Our campus!” and “who keeps us safe? We keep us safe.”
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One protester rallied the crowd by declaring “f**k yeah we’re angry radical leftists walking out on this guy.”
“We’re gonna be angry because our rights are just being infringed upon by people who aren’t literally educated people,” she said. “It’s actually terrifying that this man is speaking at our school.”
Extra material was provided for students to make signs to join the protest. One sign read “f**k Pence” while others targeted his stance on abortion. The students remained on the stairs yelling chants and speaking until most of the attendees left the campus following the speech.
“What we did today represents exactly what our founders planned when they inscribed free speech into our constitution,” one protester said. “The right to protest, the right to show that we disagree with a racist, we disagree with a homophobe and we disagree with someone who goes against what our university stands for.”
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Student organizers recruited people for the walkout in the hours leading up to the event and passed out flyers to those waiting in line to enter the venue. The flyer listed several bullet points condemning Pence and linked to a group chat titled “Pence Walkout,” in which organizers provided step by step instructions of how to participate.
The flyer, obtained by Campus Reform, alleged Pence “signed a bill to legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in Indiana,” “supported conversion therapy and anti-LGBTQ+ extremism,” “opposed critical race theory and called systemic racism a ‘left-wing myth,’” and “refused to say black lives matter.”
“Is this okay with you?” the flyer read. “If not, organize with us.”
The speech was sponsored by Young America’s Foundation. It was titled “The Future of the Conservative Movement,” and was well-received by attendees.
“I’m glad that people here are expressing their views,” one student, who wished to remain anonymous, told Campus Reform. “I think that shows Georgetown is a great school that supports free speech and is pretty tolerant of people’s views.”
Another student told Campus Reform that the Washington D.C. school hosts speakers from across the political aisle. He said he was interested in hearing Pence speak because “it’s far more bipartisan.”
Vaidhyanathan stated that hosting different speakers “shows that everyone does want to see different viewpoints.”
“We don’t want to just see the same Democratic viewpoint, even if you’re a Democrat,” he said. “If you’re a Republican, there are quite a few Republicans on campus, so it shows that people at Georgetown want to see different viewpoints.”
Campus Reform contacted YAF and Georgetown for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.
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